The Rise of the Female Gamer

Historically, games have been designed with males in mind. When game developers are creating a new game, they are focused on pleasing the male consumer because males have been the greater part of the gaming population. However, according to Entertainment Software Association, since 2006, the share of female gamers has risen from 38% to 45%. Now with almost half of the population of gamers being female and the female gamer continuing to rise, the context of the gaming tale is changing.

The old gaming culture is very male-centered. Male characters were often the only option of player. When a female character was featured, she was often over sexualized or acted as the damsel in distress. A common focus of games is a male character journeying and defeating foes to save the woman and be rewarded with her undying love.

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Source: https://www.deviantart.com/nintega-dario/art/Mario-Carrying-Peach-698670534

Sporting games based of professional sports, such as NHL, 2k, and FIFA, are available for male teams only.Unknown-4.jpeg

Other wildly popular games consist of men killing each other over and over and over again. Call of Duty, a game ranked in the top 10 games of all time on almost every source, is a first person shooter game that originally takes place in World War II (however, spin off games take place in other settings of warfare). This male dominated video game features only male characters, despite the fact that according to a survey done by Steam, 48% of women play Call of Duty.

Don’t get me wrong, many girls do play and enjoy these games, however they follow a very male centered narrative that has recently seen a shift due to the rise of the female gamer. The time for males to be the sole owners of the label “gamer” is ending. Game developers have realized that almost half of their consumers are female and are adapting accordingly to satisfy their customers.

Character choices have started to include both men and women. From being able to compete as Princess Peach in Mario games to Mrs. Pacman, women are now represented in the action.  In 2017, Sledgehammer Games released Call of Duty WWII, which added female soldiers. This not only appeals to the women gaming audience, it is also historically accurate. According to History.com, more than 350,000 women joined the military during the second World War.

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Additionally, a new game called Iconoclasts is one of the best selling games of 2018. The main character, Robin, a female, must defeat enemies, solve puzzles, and venture past obstacles in order to escape the authoritarian group “One Concern” that has just overthrown the government. Games that have female lead characters are popular among the female and male gaming communities.

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Due to the rise of the female gamer, the narrative of gaming has seen a shift to a more female inclusive environment. This feminist wave that society is currently undergoing, sometimes referred to as Third Wave Feminism, has caused for a demand for female diversity in gaming. Females are now more comfortable picking up a controller and playing a game knowing that they can be represented by another female and the ladies who have been long time gamers can feel included in the world of games.

Cassidy Tynan

3 thoughts on “The Rise of the Female Gamer”

  1. I thought it was so interesting how I never realized that so many females play video games. With that point, I agree that video games are overtly male-centered, and I can understand your point of view on how video games underrepresent the female populations. However, I somewhat disagree with your points on how sports video games are mostly male. I think that the reason why sports video games are mostly male are because they cover male sports leagues, such as the NFL, NHL, and NBA. The reason why they don’t include women is because they aren’t in these leagues, and there is no financial incentive to create a game for women’s sports leagues that nobody watch, even women. It is mostly a testament to sports culture rather than gaming culture.

    1. I totally agree with that in that it is more of a testament to sports culture and not gaming culture. I am just saying that it furthers the male domination of gaming as popular games. Personally, I like the games and believe that they are necessary in gaming, however I am just pointing out that there is a lack in the female representation to counter all of the male centered games.

  2. Love this post! I think it’s great that you highlighted the pure number of female gamers that aren’t getting the proportional attention by the industry that is deserved. One thing I couldn’t help but think about was the nature of immersive story-based RPGs that I think have the potential to become very popular with the female gamer demographic that has only recently had a push in the right direction. For so long, the only memorable female character in RPG games was Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider franchise who is insanely over-sexualized and even as a female protagonist has a variety of male tropes associated with her character’s actions and statements. Only recently, with characters like Ellie in The Last of Us and Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn, have female leads with unique empowering stories (that flip gender tropes on their heads) become more successful in the popular gaming world. I hope that this is a trend that continues because those are some of my favorite games in recent memory.

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